Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History
April 4th, 2018 by diane92345

Meticulously researched biography about the world’s most famous conjoined twins.

Chang and Eng were joined by a small tube of skin and shared a liver. Today they would have been separated soon after birth. In the early 1800s, they were purchased from their Chinese/Siamese mother for $500. They were shipped to America in steerage while their owners cruised first-class. The twins were shown around America and briefly England as both racially curiosities and freaks while living as basically property of their owners. Eventually, taking control of their life, they marry American sisters and have 21 children. They also purchase some slaves of their own.

Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History does a great job of setting the scene in early America. It relates politics, demographics and culture of each year as the twins travel around the US. The twins’ story is inspiring. Going from slaves to slave owners while being obviously different from all around them is a testament to their intelligence and work ethic if not their morality. Times were different back then and the author tries to place their decisions within the culture of the times.

I enjoyed Inseparable hugely. It reads like fiction despite being fully developed from contemporaneous sources. This book contains so much history, it would also be a good resource for authors writing historical fiction in the same time period. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Liveright, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Too Close to Breathe
April 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

Nothing is as it seems in the new top-notch thriller Too Close to Breathe by debut Irish novelist Olivia Kiernan.

Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is back to work after being stabbed in the line of duty.  Frankie is placed in charge of a large team looking into the death of Professor Eleanor Costello. One small forensic finding makes Eleanor’s hanging not a suicide but a murder.  There are indications that Eleanor may have been a victim of physical abuse. Eleanor’s husband has also disappeared.  As the body count rises, it appears that a serial killer is at large in Dublin.  I won’t say more as the fun is trying to follow the twisty plot.

Frankie’s PTSD is almost another character in Too Close to Breathe. The case against her assailant is going to trial soon.  Frankie’s back story is slowly unveiled through flashbacks.

Too Close to Breathe was a thrilling read until the last 15%.  I wasn’t happy with the end.  It didn’t necessarily play fair with the amateur detective reader.  Or maybe I’m just upset because I didn’t guess who did it.  It was also rather abrupt. There were also many coincidences toward the end.  However, this book still deserves 4 stars for the innovative structure of a detective with PTSD and some of the other surprising aspects of the crime not often used in thrillers. I hope this is the start of a long and productive series.

Thanks to the publisher, Dutton, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Tart of Darkness
April 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

The characters and romances are better than the mystery in Tart of Darkness.

Dani Sloan inherits a Victorian half-finished bed and breakfast. A former Human Resources executive, Dani really wants to be a chef. She decides to share her house with three college students: Ivy, Tippi and Starr. In return for reduced rent, all three promise to help Dani launch her new business, Chef-to-go.  The business offers catering, personal chef and lunch drive-thru service from her kitchen window.

When Dani is asked to cater queen bee Regina’s luau, she thinks it may be her ticket to more business from the area’s wealthy customer base. Instead both Dani and Ivy are suspected of murder. Ivy’s uncle Spencer is head of campus security. He and Dani decide to solve the case by looking into who had motive and opportunity. Bliss, Regina’s best friend, Laz, Regina’s boyfriend, and Vance, Regina’s ex and Bliss’ current boyfriend are all suspects.

I liked the interaction of Dani and Spencer better than the mystery within Tart of Darkness. The mystery threw a lot of information in the last few pages that was needed to solve the crime making it difficult for armchair detectives to solve. All of Dani’s meals sound delicious but where are the recipes? I will read the next in the series to see where Dani’s romance leads rather than expect a captivating mystery. 3 1/2 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

There is a giveaway for this book here through April 27, 2018.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,